According to Washington State University, “Wagyu beef is the highest quality meat in the world”. Its tenderness, flavour and heavy marbling give the steak its satisfying mouthfeel. It is the feeling of the meat melting in your mouth like butter that really makes Wagyu beef an outstanding culinary experience. Chances are you’ve heard of the term ‘wagyu’ or seen it on a menu – as the ubiquitous lip-smacking burger or perhaps as a cut of steak.

Marbling in Wagyu beef contributes markedly not only to tenderness and juiciness but importantly to taste. There is a real opportunity in South Africa for domestic producers to raise their herds to the level of quality beef that is growing in demand around the world including, South Africa. The mission on the South African Wagyu Society is to “Wagyu South Africa’s mission is to transform the South African beef industry to be highly profitable with consumers demanding and enjoying a premium eating experience. “ Simply put, we would like every South African to experience the magic that is Wagyu beef.

There are many producers who have used Wagyu bulls or who have Artificially Inseminated (AI) many of their commercial animals with Fullblood or Purebred Wagyu semen and are looking at the opportunity to grade up over time to become a purebred herd or to remain a commercial herd but command a premium price for their cattle that then may have a higher than 50% Wagyu content. This article describes the process that producers can follow to either breed to a Fullblood or Purebred Wagyu herd, remain a commercial producer, or probably both. A separate article will describe the “type” of Wagyu that you may be interested in breeding. 

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Most leading retailers in South Africa sell Wagyu. Wagyu is also sold in many of the country’s leading butcheries. Look out for the Certified Wagyu Sticker to ensure that the product is authentic Wagyu.

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The Certified Wagyu Beef Program has been developed to ensure that all sectors of the Wagyu supply chain to

  • ensure product integrity
  • provide a consistent message to consumers regarding Wagyu beef as a product
  • provide the Wagyu industry with the opportunity to market and brand the Wagyu product appropriately and
  • protect the investment made by Wagyu South Africa members.

Using the DNA Wagyu content test, the Certified Wagyu Beef Program also assures Wagyu breed content in all sectors of the Wagyu supply chain as per the below. For more details on the program. 

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There are three ways for producers to submit data to the Society. The easiest is with a:

  • For larger herds (above 50 breeding cows) a herd management programs such as HerdMASTER (a BREEDPLAN product with a support office in South Africa), Stockbook (an Australian program) or Bengufarm (a Studbook /ARC Program). All programs must have the function to provide carcass as well as mating lists that are reconciled with BREEDPLAN.
  • For smaller herds (less than 50 breeding cows) a Society Excel form for a) birth notifications, b) weights and traits and c) mating lists can be found here

Directly on the website using the BREEDPLAN Login 

Click here

The development of the Wagyu breed has been nothing short of spectacular and Wagyu cattle can now be found in 38 countries. The largest Wagyu population is still in Japan. A total of only about 200 full-bloods were shipped abroad in the late 70’s but it was enough to develop purebred herds in Canada, Australia and the United States. The introduction of the Wagyu Internationally has forever changed the beef industry and will do so in South Africa as well. If Wagyu penetrates only 5% of the South African market it will required 30 000 Seedstock (Stud) animals and 700 000 commercial animals. In a country such as Australia, Wagyu already makes up 25% of the content of all breeds. 

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